What is the Export Tariff?

Is the Export Tariff the same as the Feed in Tariff?


In the Export Tariff funded by taxes?

No, it is included with people’s bills

So, is the Export Tariff a subsidy?

No, it is a method for people with solar to sell electricity to the grid at market rates (when you include the losses in transmission)

So, what does the government want to do?

The Export tariff will end on the 29th March 2019. This means that any electricity exported from a new domestic solar PV array will be given to the grid for free, and then the energy companies sell this electricity back at a profit

I need a metaphor to understand this

Imagine you grow your own food, and grow too much for yourself. You are banned from selling it, but someone from Sainsbury’s comes in to your garden, steals your food and sells it to your neighbours. Unfair, right? Well that’s what the government is doing to solar

Is that legal?

Under EU rules, probably not, so it depends on the Brexit deal as to if the government is allowed to do this.

But doesn’t this only effect rich homeowners? I heard on BBC File on Four people get a 12% rate of return on solar installation investments.

That’s not true, the highest rate of return was 11% in 2011. Since then, the rate of return has substantially decreased. Also, that’s talking about the Feed in Tariff, not the Export Tariff

But still, it only effects rich homeowners with cash to spare right?

No, the solar industry in 2015 employed 36,000 hard working people. Since various anti-solar policies came in, this has dropped to maybe 15,000 people. These are direct jobs, there are additional jobs supported, such as scaffolds. The loss of the Export Tariff will result in thousands more job losses.

Also, as well as supporting many small British companies, solar is used by social housing landlords, hospitals, schools, community energy projects and a range of other organisations.

But the government is supporting solar in other ways?

No, from the “solar tax” element of business rates, making the grid connection process more complex, reducing the Feed in Tariff by random large amounts (sometimes illegally), and also removing rules to have renewables on new build, the solar industry has not had a positive experience of government policy.

But the UK is really dark anyway, surely solar doesn’t make much electricity?

In 2018, on a sunny summer day at midday solar generated up to 27% of UK electricity. The UK has 12GW of solar.

Why is the Export Tariff removal happening?

We don’t know

Can I do anything about this?


  1. First, sign this petition: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/stop-the-solar-attack
  2. If you run a company, sign this letter: https://www.solar-trade.org.uk/sign-letter-on-export-tariffs/
  3. Then, write to your MP through this link: https://1010uk.org/supportsolar (or write independently)
  4. Next, go and see your MP, find their details from: https://www.theyworkforyou.com

More info at: http://www.solar-trade.org.uk/campaigns/fair4solar

Opportunity for companies to receive world class support in connection of renewables and storage to the grid

Electricity pylonElectricity pylon

Leading renewable energy specialist, Narec Distributed Energy (Narec DE), is working with the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE Catapult) to host a free workshop focused on providing expertise on connecting renewable energy and battery technologies to the electricity grid.

Taking place on Thursday 20th September at ORE Catapult’s world class testing facilities in Blyth, the workshop is open to businesses, SMEs, sole traders and researchers operating in the field of storage, smart grids and renewables.

The event is designed to help delegates understand and avoid various problems related to connecting various systems to the grid, and is primarily designed as a Q&A session. Delegates are encouraged to bring questions with them based on problems they are experiencing within their own schemes. Topics to be covered include grid codes and the coming changes next year, common issues and the best ways to work with Distribution Network Operators.

One of Narec DE’s major specialities is in the grid connection of wind, solar and battery farms, and it has provided services for a range of SMEs, large companies and local authorities over the past seven years. Currently, Narec DE is working on the grid connection of several >50MW battery farms.

Speaking about the upcoming event, Bryan Dixon, Senior Electrical Design Engineer at Narec DE, who will be speaking at the event, said:

“We’re proud to be offering this workshop alongside ORE Catapult. We know about the common issues that can arise when trying to connect to the grid and are we always looking to share our expertise with businesses working in the industry.”

“The range of industry experts and academia speaking at the event will provide important information to the companies attending. The question and answer section of the event will be especially beneficial as it will allow us to really go into detail about the issues most businesses face when it comes to grid connection. I would recommend that people attending come prepared with questions that they would like addressed to really make the most of this free session.”

This workshop is being run as part of the eGrid project, a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project that has enabled ORE Catapult to install one of the world’s most advanced Grid Emulation Systems at its centre in Blyth.

Speaking about the opportunities on offer at the event, Stephanie Mann, Innovation Manager at ORE Catapult said:

“We’re pleased to be hosting this event with Narec DE to provide local companies with the opportunity to improve their knowledge about connecting to the grid. We will be introducing our state-of-the-art eGrid system discussing the opportunities for local companies to get involved. It is a great opportunity for companies to gain knowledge of our world-class facilities, expert business support services and technical specialists.”

To register for the event, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/grid-emulation-system-egrid-grid-connection-workshop-tickets-49686732354?aff=eac2

Fully Funded Renewable Energy Training Available

One of the North East’s leading renewable energy specialists, Narec Distributed Energy (Narec DE), will be providing full funded accredited training to electricians, plumbers and heating engineers on Solar PV, solar thermal and heat pumps to enable installers to meet requirements set out in the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Based in Northumberland, Narec DE is the only company in a 100-mile radius to provide the nationally accredited courses, educating installers on how to safely and efficiently install low carbon technologies. The company is providing free training, on behalf of New College Durham, fully funded by the European Social Fund to help companies and individuals adhere to industry standards.

Taking place at Narec DE’s renewable energy training centre in Blyth the training courses are available to sole traders and SMEs. Set up like a concept house, each room has a different type of renewable energy technology – such as Solar PV, Solar Thermal and Heat Pumps – giving trainees a real hands on training experience.

The courses cover regulations, principles of the technologies and the installation and maintenance of renewable energy technologies, allowing any suitably qualified electrician, plumber or heating engineer to diversify into low carbon technologies.

Speaking about the invaluable experience and training courses, Hayley Corney, Renewable Energy Training Coordinator said:

“We are delighted to be offering our many years of expertise in the renewables industry to enable more companies to embrace new technologies and in return reap the benefits whilst also playing a role in helping to build a sustainable environment.

“One of the courses we offer is the heat pump training which we think will be of particular interest as the increasing demand in the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme offered by the government has led to a skill shortage in the industry.”

Offering training services for seven years, Narec DEs specialist courses are accredited by LOGIC and EAL, giving those who complete the course an industry recognized qualification. These certified qualifications are accepted by the nationally recognized quality assurance scheme, MCS. The technical courses on offer have been developed in compliance to both LOGIC and MCS requirements. The MCS is an eligibility requirement to receive green energy financial incentives offered by the government such as the Feed-in Tariff and the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Hayley said:

“Our courses are available to individuals and small companies whether they are trying to meet their green energy goals or qualify for government-funded energy schemes. Training can be tailored to suit individual or business goals and relevant accreditations will be awarded in recognition of this. Our passion for the renewable energy industry inspired us to provide these courses to increase the use of renewable energy throughout the UK and build a better and more sustainable future.”

Established in 2012, Narec Distribution Energy was started by the UK National Renewable Energy Centre. Narec DE is an organisation that offer strategic, technical and training services within the renewable and low carbon sectors, focusing on the built environment. The purpose of the work is to reduce carbon emissions, alleviate fuel poverty, improve energy security, stimulate economic growth and educate energy users about renewables.

Narec Distributed Energy sign open letter to government on the photovoltaic export tariff

Narec Distributed Energy have joined 200 organisations in signing a letter from the Solar Trade Association to the Minister of State for Energy & Clean Growth, to ask for the export tariff for solar photovoltaics to remain.

Current government plans will remove the export tariff, which currently pays homeowners 5.77p/kWh that they are estimated to have exported. Under the new rules, this electricity will still be exported to the grid but homeowners will not be paid. Essentially, homes with PV installed after the 29th of March 2019 will be giving their electricity away for free to energy companies.

We believe this is a bad deal for homeowners, and will damage the already significantly contracted photovoltaic market within the UK. Photovoltaics offer a way to quickly install large amounts of clean generation within the UK, and there is already 12GW of capacity now installed. 

Other organisations to sign the letter include Nissan Energy Storage, Logic Certification, Ovo Energy, and Huawei Solar Europe.

The letter can be viewed here: https://www.solar-trade.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Open-Letter-to-Claire-Perry-re-Export-Tariffs.pdf

A successful NE Expo for Narec Distributed Energy!

Narec Distributed Energy have had a successful NE Expo this year as their fabulous ‘Desk Gardens’ went down a storm!

Narec Distributed Energy (NDE), a Blyth based organisation that carries out a wide range of work within the renewable and low carbon sectors brought a new, 100% renewable marketing tool to the NE Expo on Wednesday 2nd May!

People visiting the exhibition were intrigued by the little logo’d aluminium pots on the Narec DE stand and played a guessing game as to what they actually contained.

Guesses from visitors were amusing and brought about some interesting conversations at the stand.

The 100% renewable pots were in fact little ‘desk gardens’ containing soil and mint seeds which, over the period of 21-28 days will grow and bring happiness as well as mint for tea for people working at their desks (either at home or at work).

Most people at the NE Expo took away their little desk garden with a skip and a smile on their face along with the promise to upload their very own photos when the seeds start to grow.

Hayley Corney, from NDE said;

We were over the moon that the little desk gardens were a success! They fitted in nicely with our ethos of renewables and gave a great talking point for all the visitors to the Expo.

NDE are now looking forward to exhibiting at the Federation of Master Builders on 29th June.

For more information about the FMB event visit HERE

Follow Narec Distributed Energy on Social Media via:

Narec Distributed Energy LinkedIn
Narec Distributed Energy Facebook
Narec Distributed Energy Twitter

NDE offering new courses to complement current offer

Narec Distributed Energy are pleased to announce we are now offering complementary courses to our current offer in the following:

We can also now offer group bookings in the following courses….

  • Asbestos Awareness 
  • Asbestos Awareness for Architects and Designers 
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health COSHH
  • Manual Handling 
  • Data Protection in the Workplace 
  • Basic Fire Safety Awareness 
  • Fire Extinguisher 
  • Time Management 
  • Working Safely 
  • Working at Height 
  • Safeguarding Children 
  • Prevent Duty 

Contact: training@narecde.co.uk or call 01670 357638 for further information.

Narec Distributed Energy to accept SolarCoin cryptocurrency

SolarCoin logo and Narec DE solar PV systemSolarCoin logo and Narec DE solar PV system

UK based renewable energy firm, Narec Distributed Energy (NDE), has announced it will now accept the renewable energy based SolarCoin cryptocurrency as payments for solar training courses.

SolarCoin is a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, but given to providers of electricity from solar. For every MWh of energy generated, The SolarCoin Foundation give the generator 1 SolarCoin (§1). As opposed to Bitcoin, SolarCoin also has a far lower energy footprint. The idea behind SolarCoin is to support the production of solar electricity globally

There are two purposes behind NDE’s decision to accept SolarCoin, the first is that anyone who generates solar electricity may have SolarCoins, the second is that by accepting SolarCoin, this helps establish the cryptocurrency, hopefully helping the value stabilise. NDE’s acceptance of SolarCoin follows on from the ACWA Power’s recent announcement they have registered to receive SolarCoins.

The course provided by NDE which can be paid for with SolarCoin is the LOGIC accredited Level 3 Solar PV Installation and Maintenance. This course fulfils part of the requirements for Microgeneration Certification Scheme registration, and is open only to qualified electricians.

Currently, the value of SolarCoin is too low to make a meaningful impact on the economics of solar, but a modest increase from the current value of £0.36 to a value of £50/MWh could have major implications for the economics of solar. NDE will accept the equivalent in SolarCoins on the day of payment as the cost of the course in GBP. At the time of writing this means a course will currently cost over a thousand SolarCoins. Hopefully with future increases in SolarCoin the cost of the courses in SolarCoins will decrease.

Hayley Corney, the NDE Renewable Energy Training Manager said:

“At NDE we are always looking to involve ourselves in new developments within the renewable energy industry, and by accepting SolarCoins, this enables us to provide training to the staff of developers who can claim the cryptocurrency”

The training courses are run whenever there is demand for them, people interested in attending courses should contact NDE on training@narecde.co.uk or 01670 357 638.

NDE will accept SolarCoins from the 14th February onwards.

Funded training to upskill North East heating engineers into heat pump installers

dismantled heat pump at Narec Distributed Energy training centredismantled heat pump at Narec Distributed Energy training centre

Narec Distributed Energy (NDE) is offering 100% funded accredited heat pump training courses to North East based heating engineers, training them to install and maintain this renewable energy heating system.

NDE is an independent company based in Blyth, Northumberland. The training courses available include the aforementioned installation of heat pumps, heat metering and some of the plumbing prerequisite courses. As well as heat pumps, other courses on offer include solar thermal heating, and photovoltaics.

With the forthcoming increase within the Renewable Heat Incentive, it is expected that there will soon be a skills shortage in qualified heat pump engineers, and this is an ideal time for North East companies to take advantage of funded training to gain a foothold in this new market.

Pete McNaughton, Renewables Sales Manager from Mitsubushi Electric said:

The Air Source Heat Pump industry has never been stronger with the increase in RHI looming along with increased oil prices and public awareness constantly growing. The appetite to be less reliant on fossil fuels and become greener is a big factor in home owners and landlords moving towards Air Source Heat Pumps, even in what traditionally would be classed as “on gas” areas. Financially it makes perfect sense to switch which is seeing the market grow at a healthy rate. The bottleneck to this growth will be trained engineers qualified to install products.

The funding is being provided by the European Social Fund (ESF) and co-financed by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).

To be eligible, a company must be based in the North East LEP area (Northumberland, County Durham or Tyne & Wear), be a sole trader or SME (under 250 employees and under £40 million turnover), and be undertaking the course for the first time.

Mick Broadbent, Renewable Energy Training Coordinator at NDE explained:

“Due to the nature of the installations, it is a natural progression for a fully qualified Plumbing and Heating Engineer to up-skill in this particular field, as well as gaining a recognised qualification in Heat Pump Installation you have the opportunity to increase workload and enhance your company profile. This can lead to gaining contracts from Local Authorities / and Private investors who require these Renewable technologies installed by Fully Qualified Engineers”

The first course is running on the 13th to 26th June 2017. Courses end on the 28th July


*** High resolution photography available on request ***


Tom Bradley


01670 357 685


Narec Distributed Energy is an independent renewable energy company, based in Blyth, which was incorporated in 2012. The website is www.narecde.co.uk

The European Social Fund (ESF) is the European Union’s main financial instrument for supporting employment in the member states of the European Union.

The courses are:

Installation Courses

Prerequisite Courses

General Courses


Fully funded renewable energy training for heating engineers and electricans

Photovoltaic system on the Narec Distributed Energy training centrePhotovoltaic system on the Narec Distributed Energy training centre

Narec Distributed Energy is once more offering fully funded accredited renewable energy related training courses at our training centre in Blyth, Northumberland. This will enable heating engineers and electricians, as well as existing renewable energy companies, to upskill their staff. Of particular interest for many is the heat pump training, as increases in the Renewable Heat Incentive are causing a skills shortage within this industry.

All installation and maintenance courses can be used by operatives or individuals looking to join the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.

The courses are:

Installation and Maintenance Courses

  • Solar PV Installation and Maintenance Training – Logic Level 3 – 4 days
  • Solar Thermal Installation & Maintenance Training – Logic Level 3 – 4 days
  • Heat Pumps Installation & Maintenance Training – Logic Level 3 – 4 days

Short Courses

  • Principles of Metering for Renewable Heat Systems – Logic Level 2 – 1 day
  • Accredited Water Regulations Training Course (WRAS 1999) – 1 day
  • Energy Efficiency for Gas & Oil Fired DHW & Heating Training – Logic Level 3 – 1 day
  • Hot Water Systems & Safety (inc. Unvented hot water) – 1 day
  • Fundamental Principles of Environmental Technology Systems – Logic Level 3 – 1 day

To be eligible for the training, you must:

  1. Be a sole trader, or a company classified as an SME*
  2. Be undertaking this course for the first time

To enrol on a course, please contact Narec Distributed Energy on training@narecde.co.uk or 01670 357 638.

More course information is available at www.narecde.co.uk/training

Funding is provided through the European Social Fund, via New College Durham


* An SME is a company with less than 250 staff, an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euro.

Walk in session for plumbers and electricians as part of Solar Independence Day

Narec DE solar thermal training rig in BlythNarec DE solar thermal training rig in Blyth

Narec Distributed Energy are throwing open their doors to the public at their training centre, in Blyth on Friday 3 July from 13:00 to 15:00 as part of a UK-wide celebration of solar energy.

Local plumbers and electricians are welcome to come and see demonstration solar thermal and photovoltaic training rigs, and talk through how they could upskill to become solar installers, growing their businesses and helping others generate clean, home-grown electricity.

Narec Distributed Energy train hundreds of installers every year and recently trained 130 renewable energy installers under a funded project in Sunderland.

Ahead of the open day, Tom Bradley, Senior Project Engineer commented:

“Photovoltaics and solar thermal offer opportunities for existing plumbers and electricians to reskill, grow their businesses, and help their customers reduce their energy bills with clean energy”

A series of Solar Independence Day open days are taking place across the country on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 July, led by the Solar Trade Association. The open days include a housing estate in Northumberland, a farm building in Perthshire, a community solar farm in Hampshire  and a further education college in Edinburgh.

The theme of the event, solar independence, follows the Solar Trade Association’s publication just a few weeks ago of its ‘Solar Independence Plan for Britain’, which sets out how the new Conservative government can take steps to ensure that British solar can beat fossil fuels on price and without subsidy as soon as possible. The trade body’s analysis shows that by using funds more efficiently this government could double the amount of solar energy in 2020 for very little extra money.

Members of the public are welcome to register to attend the open day on the Solar Trade Association’s website.


  1.  To attend the event, please email training@narecde.co.uk. Members of the press are welcome to attend.
  2.  For further information or to request an interview, please contact: 01670 543 009

UK’s first accredited heat metering course developed

Heat meter training boardHeat meter training board

Narec Distributed Energy are proud to announce that working with industry and government they have created of the UK’s first accredited Heat Metering training course

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), set up to support renewable heat generation in the domestic sector, is now up and running and is offering tariff payments for supported technologies. In order for systems to be RHI compliant, installations must be made meter-ready and in most cases, applicants will require metering for payments to the system owner.

This new qualification is aimed at all staff involved in the selection, positioning or installation of heat meters in accordance with MCS and RHI Metering Guidance. It covers the knowledge and understanding of the requirements for metering renewable heat installations, including how to select, position, install and commission heat meters and components. The qualification has been designed and led by industry, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Ofgem, Beama, Hetas, Summit Skills and MCS.

Not only were NDE instrumental in the creation of this course, but the NDE Renewable Energy Training Centre in Blyth is the first training centre to be accredited for the delivery of this course.

If you are interested in attending the course, please contact NDE on 01670 543 006 or training@narecde.co.uk. If you are a sole trader or work for a company based in Sunderland or the Tees Valley, NDE may also be able to offer you 100% funded places on this course for a limited time.


Course description: http://www.narecde.co.uk/training/heat-metering

Funded training: http://www.narecde.co.uk/funded-renewable-energy-training/

British Standards release new BS5918 Code of Practice for Solar Heating

Evacuated tube solar thermal systemEvacuated tube solar thermal system (Thermomax, made in Belfast)

This standard is intended to help with the design and installation of solar heating equipment for domestic hot water (DHW). First published in 1980, it has been substantially rewritten and updated by a dedicated team of solar industry specialists, including Narec Distributed Energy.

It is especially intended to cover “ad-hoc” systems which typically represent UK practice, where the solar collectors and storage components are chosen from several providers and assembled on site, rather than a complete assembly from one source. Guidance is provided on controls, solar storage volumes, predicted solar energy gains, legionella risk assessment and installation practices.

Further information on the standard can be found at: http://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail/?pid=000000000030177611

Funded renewable energy training for North East businesses

Delegates from Tees Valley and Sunderland on renewable energy coursesDelegates from Tees Valley and Sunderland on renewable energy courses

Narec Distributed Energy are providing a range of fully funded renewable energy training courses for businesses based in North East England. Training includes industry standard courses on the installation and maintenance of technologies (photovoltaics, solar thermal, heat pump and biomass), introductions to technologies, and community energy courses. The courses are offered to small-medium sized businesses (<250 employees) and sole traders.

The training is funded through a combination of the “European Regional Development Fund”, the “European Social Fund”, the UK Government’s “Skills Funding Agency” and some other sources. The funding is handled regionally in three sub-regional projects by Sunderland City Council, Hartlepool Borough Council and Northumberland County Council’s subsidiary company Business Northumberland. Different courses are offered based on where each company or sole trader is based. Courses are available for Northumberland, Sunderland and Tees Valley postcode based businesses, who meet a set of eligibility criteria.

If you are interested in recieving training, the full details of courses can be found here:

To enquire about training courses, please contact Ed Walker on 01670 357638 or ed.walker@narecde.co.uk

Regional Growth Fund supports training & testing

Heat metering system at the Narec DE Training CentreHeat metering system at the Narec DE Training Centre

The sustainable business growth of Narec Distributed Energy has been secured through a Regional Growth Fund (RGF) grant.

Arch, The Northumberland Development Company, in conjunction with Northumberland County Council was awarded £11.75m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) to deliver the programme that provides financial support to businesses across Northumberland to encourage the creation of new sustainable jobs and the safeguarding of existing jobs.

Narec DE carry out a wide range of work within the renewable and low carbon sector, particularly within the built environment. Through our work we help our customers reduce carbon, alleviate fuel poverty, improve energy security, stimulate economic growth and educate energy users. We achieve this by providing a range of strategic, technical, testing and training consultancy services to clients both in the public and private sectors.

The RGF grant of £39,078 has been used to help create a new job and safeguarded another. The new SME Engagement Coordinator role aims to substantially increase training activity, while the safeguarding of a Project Engineer role will allow the continued development of Narec DE’s testing services.

Adam Stewart, Senior Project Manager at Narec DE said:

“The RGF grant has already started to have an impact, training revenue next month is forecasted to be more than it was for the whole of last year. Testing has also taken off, with a major commercial test ongoing. We are also waiting to hear back on a number of proposals, including a Horizon 2020 bid.”.


Regional Growth Fund logo

Free renewable energy training event in Northumberland

photovoltaic system in Blythphotovoltaic system in Blyth


Narec Distributed Energy will be providing a funded training seminar on renewable energy technologies to new businesses based in Northumberland, or anyone considering starting a business in Northumberland. The training session is being run with local business startup initiative Business Northumberland

Business Northumberland offers established and start-up businesses in the county free support in reaching their full growth potential. It is a free service that provides business advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business in Northumberland, and also offers business coaching to existing businesses with growth ambitions. Business Northumberland is jointly funded by Arch, The Northumberland Development Company, Northumberland County Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Business Northumberland business advisor, Ian Coull, said:

“The event in partnership with Narec Distributed Energy is a great opportunity for local entrepreneurs to learn about the renewable sector and find out how it could benefit their business. For any new businesses looking at working in the renewable energy industry, this is a must attend event.”

The event will look at a number of different areas within renewable energy including an introduction to energy and government policy, legislative issues and a brief summary of financial incentives and more. Some of the technologies covered include photovoltaics, solar thermal, head pumps, wind energy and anaerobic digestion.

As well as an overview of renewable energy, attendees will also be given an overview of the support available for their customers who convert to renewable energy such as the Feed in Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive.

The event is on the morning of Wednesday the 24th September, for more details please go to http://www.narecde.co.uk/training-course/introduction-renewable-energy-systems-breakfast-seminar/ or ring Narec DE on 01670 543 006

NDE updates off grid PV system

Whiteburnshanks cottageFigure 1: Whiteburnshanks cottage

Three years ago, The Whiteburnshank Trust approached Narec DE to investigate high running costs for their outdoor education centre; an old shepherd’s cottage located in the heart of Kidland Forest. This centre has an off-grid electricity system with 24V battery bank, a 2.5kW wind turbine, 6 x 150W PV modules and a 10kW diesel generator for back up.  Our recommendations at the time included more regular maintenance of the battery cells and generator, more efficient use of electricity (including better user awareness) and potentially charging per-unit to reflect the very expensive costs of diesel genset charging. Additional PV was an option, but at the time considerably expensive.

Three years on, with the development of the PV market, PV module costs have fallen dramatically to the region of £0.50/Wp and The Trust reconsidered extra PV. The original PV system uses modules designed for battery charging which are now increasingly difficult to source and very expensive compared to those designed for grid connected systems.

Narec DE recommended fitting around 2kWp of ‘grid market’ PV modules connected to the existing battery system using a max power point solar charger to regulate the output to the batteries. We worked with a steel fabrication company (Life Engineering in Washington) to design tilted racks to mount the array. Due to the sloping site, the modules are arranged in groups of three rather like a stepped terrace of housing. Each unit is wired as a series string, with the resulting approx. 100 volts DC fed to the battery room via armoured cable.

The tilted racks are anchored to ground using stakes and ballasted with tree trunks (the plan is is to build a ‘ballast garden’ of small shrubs to blend with surroundings)

Soon after connection, in a clear sunny cloud break, the system delivered impressive results, with a charging current of 70 amps delivered to the batteries and an indicated power of 1850 Watts. This is double the current delivered to the batteries by the generator so should help improve the battery state of charge considerably.

Nick Davies of NDE & Adrian Copley of Whiteburnshank Trust celebrate completionFigure 2: Nick Davies of NDE & Adrian Copley of Whiteburnshank Trust celebrate completion

Background on Whiteburnshanks

Whiteburnshank has been lived in for many years and is one of only three farms that remain in use in the Kidland forest today. In 1993 the Whiteburnshank Trust was set up to provide a centre for young people in the county. The trust is responsible for developing and maintaining the centre and is made up of a small committee of volunteers who manage, maintain and try to develop and improve the centre. It is non profit making and has only a small working income which just covers costs and routine maintenance. Further information, and booking enquiries, can be found at http://www.whiteburnshank.org.uk. Available 365 days a year, the cottage is ideal for groups and is used Scouts, guides, D of E, school groups, bona fide organisations etc.

Upper Coquetdale electricity supply

Many properties in the Upper Coquet valley and other remote rural areas of Northumberland do not have access to grid electricity. This can present real problems for residents in terms of the extra cost of alternative power sources which is invariably diesel generators for electricity, and in the more remote areas this presents additional problems of cost, noise and delivery access for bulk diesel delivery. The problem is quite widespread and a recent petition to Northumberland County Council to invest resources in studying the issue attracted over 450 signatures [1].

[1]  Northumberland County Council Petitions Committee

75% funded places available on heat pump and solar thermal courses

Solar thermal training rig and heat pump at Narec DE Training CentreSolar thermal training rig and heat pump at Narec DE Training Centre

Delegates can receive up to 75% off the cost of Narec Distributed Energy’s LOGIC solar thermal and heat pump training courses, under a scheme funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Narec Distributed Energy Training Centre has been accepted as a registered training centre for the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s £650,000 RHI Training Support Scheme. This fund is aimed at raising the skill set of domestic heating engineers to enable them to install and maintain renewable heating systems.

The RHI Training support scheme provides vouchers worth 75% of the cost of the training and assessment, up to a maximum of £500 per voucher. Up to 5 employees per organisation can take advantage of the vouchers. 100% of the cost is covered for apprentices on the scheme.

Narec Distributed Energy Training Centre is an approved QCF training course delivery centre, allowing our delegates to achieve internationally recognised qualifications in renewable and low carbon technologies. QCF Level 3 training in Heat Pump, PV and Solar Thermal installation. Under the RHI Training Support Scheme, delegates can receive funding for our LOGIC accredited Solar Thermal Hot Water Installation and Heat Pump Installation and Maintenance courses.

To take advantage of the scheme, delegates can register on the RHI Training support website for vouchers at http://www.rhitraining.co.uk/ and then contact Narec Distributed Energy Training team on 01670 543006 or email training@narecde.co.uk to book a course.

More details on the courses can be found on the solar thermal hot water system installer course heat pump installation and maintenance pages of the Narec Distributed Energy website.

Reducing residents bills through training housing associations in renewable energy

Deligates from housing associations being trained in the Narec DE Training CentreDelegates from housing associations being trained in the Narec DE Training Centre

Currently, tenants moving into properties that have photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Thermal (ST) systems, may not be receiving any advice on how to get maximum benefit from them. As a result, an opportunity to reduce tenants’ fuel bills and help alleviate fuel poverty is being missed.

Up until now the available relevant training courses have tended to cover one technology and are aimed at technical trades such as installers; or they are informal, manufacturer-led courses that are insufficiently structured or developed to be of use to Housing Association staff.

In order to bridge the gap in the market, Narec Distributed Energy, in conjunction with Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) have developed a new bespoke one day training course. It is targeted at tenant liaison officers, to dramatically improve the quality of advice given to tenants about these systems.  The course focuses on empowering tenants to maximise the savings they can make on their energy bills by understanding and properly using the systems.

Working with YHN’s Energy for the Future program, the new course ‘Getting the most out of Renewables in Social Housing’ has been developed, independent of any manufacturer bias. It was trialled in October 2013 at the Ballast Hill Training Centre within the Narec Technology Park, in Blyth, with staff from Your Homes Newcastle, Energy Services at Newcastle City Council and the Fabrick Group.

Attendees were introduced to the renewable technologies most utilised in social housing and provided with useful, practical information on how these systems are most efficiently used.   Delegates received a CPD certificate along with training materials for future reference. The course provided the tenant liaison officers and housing officers with both the knowledge and confidence they need to offer high quality energy advice and guidance to tenants.

Client testimonial from Tom Jarman, Investment Delivery Manager at Your Homes Newcastle (YHN)

“When a tenant moves into one of our properties, they want to set up their home and get settled in.  If they move into a house with a solar thermal or photovoltaic system, we will wait a few weeks then contact them to offer an Energy for the Future visit.  At the visit officers show tenants how to save money on energy bills and heat their home more comfortably. Since the training with Narec Distributed Energy we can also help them get the most from the ST and PV systems, save money and reduce their carbon footprint. It also means that YHN’s investment in these systems goes even further.  Working with Narec Distributed Energy filled a gap in the market for us, to the benefit of our tenants.”

Narec Distributed Energy are scheduling a number of these courses in the near future. If you are interested or have any other training needs, please get in touch on 01670 543009 or email training@narecde.co.uk


Energy for the Future - logo

Completion of major fuel poverty alleviation project

Figure 2: Thermal image of Wimpey No Fine system built homes. "A" has no insulation and "B" has external wall cladding. Homes like "A" are to be targeted under ECO using measures like "B" has.Thermal image – “A” has no insulation and “B” has external wall insulation.

The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in partnership with South Tyneside Homes and Homes for Northumberland has undertaken a major fuel poverty alleviation programme of energy efficiency improvements on over 300 socially rented hard-to-heat properties.

The £3.84 million European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)* collaborative project, has installed low carbon and renewable energy technologies and systems to improve the housing stock in the region and regenerate off-gas or non-traditional construction properties. Solutions included external wall cladding, low energy lighting, replacement doors and windows, loft insulation, TRVs, improvements to heating and domestic hot water systems, and enabling works for photovoltaic systems.

As part of the project, the impact and effectiveness of the modifications and improvements made to the different types of housing stock have been monitored and analysed by Narec Distributed Energy.

Key Improvements are:

  • Significant decreases in fuel bills
  • Major improvement in tenant satisfaction with homes
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

The key message of this project is that energy efficiency and renewable energy are a major weapon in the fight against fuel poverty. The same solutions can reduce fuel poverty and reduce human induced climate change.

In addition to the work included in this report, a unique SME capacity building programme was delivered. Through the project, over 95 regional SMEs were supported to access tailored support and assistance to expand or diversify their business capabilities within the low carbon sector.  By combining this with the retrofit programme, SMEs were able to visit the retrofit works as they were delivered allowing them a unique insight into the installation and use of these low carbon and renewable technologies, over 200 individuals in north east SMEs were supported with skills development.

Full details of this project are available in the end of project report at:

For more information please email: info@narecde.co.uk

Further information on fuel poverty can be found in the following blog posts:

* The European Regional Development Fund exists to reduce economic disparities within and between member states by supporting economic regeneration and safeguarding jobs. Since 2000, England alone has benefited from more than €5bn of funding, with a further €3.2 billion being invested between 2007 and 2013 in local projects around the country. From 2014 to 2020 a further €6.2 billion will be invested in England, with €0.54 billion targeted at the North East of England.

Dissemination event for fuel poverty project

Photovoltaic array at Narec Distributed EnergyPhotovoltaic array at Narec Distributed Energy

The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in partnership with South Tyneside Homes and Homes for Northumberland has undertaken a programme of energy efficiency improvements on over 300 socially rented hard-to-heat properties.

The £3.84 million European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) collaborative project, has installed low carbon and renewable energy technologies and systems to improve the housing stock in the region and regenerate off-gas or non-traditional construction properties.

As part of the project, the impact and effectiveness of the modifications and improvements made to the different types of housing stock have been monitored and analysed by Narec Distributed Energy. An event to present the findings of this ground-breaking project will be held at the Centre for Life, Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Thursday 10thOctober 2013.

This event will bring together local authorities, housing associations and the construction industry to encourage the transfer of knowledge and best practice, as well as a greater understanding of the performance and application of low carbon technologies in hard-to-heat properties. A group of Swedish companies and researchers will also be in attendance; which will provide an excellent forum for collaboration and business partnering.

To book, please use the following link: ERDF Social Housing Energy Management booking form


08:45 – 09:15   Registration

09:15 – 09:25   Welcome and Introduction

Chair, Allen Jones – Newcastle City Council

09:25 – 09:40   National Energy Action

Fuel poverty a national issue

09:40 – 09:55   National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec)

Introduction and Overview of the Social Housing Project

09:55 – 10:15   Narec Distributed Energy

Technical aspects of the project, data and project results

10:15 – 10:30   South Tyneside Homes

Retrofitting social housing – lessons learnt

10.30 – 10:40   South Tyneside Retrofit Contractor

10.40 – 10:55   Homes for Northumberland

Retrofitting social housing – lessons learnt

10:55 – 11:05 Homes for Northumberland Retrofit Contractor

11:05 – 11:30 Break

Opportunity to submit questions for panel Q&A

11.30 – 11:50   SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden

Overview of the Swedish context and brief overview of projects, experiences and lessons learnt

11:50 – 12:10   Alingsås Hem (Swedish Housing Provider)

Retrofit projects in Sweden

12:10 – 12:30   Q&A panel

Chair, Allen Jones – Newcastle City Council

12.30 – 14:00   Lunch and Networking

Exhibition zone open – Opportunity to meet with some of the SMEs who have participated in the project as well as a delegation of companies from Sweden.

14:00   Event close